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home : opinions : columns August 27, 2015

2/21/2013 5:00:00 PM
TIMES EDITORIAL: Conflicts at Palo Verde Hospital will soon cost someone their life
Palo Verde Healthcare District Board President Trina Sartin is also the owner of Desert Air Ambulance service.
Palo Verde Healthcare District Board President Trina Sartin is also the owner of Desert Air Ambulance service.

When it came to firing Palo Verde Hospital CEO Peter Klune a few short weeks back, Board President Trina Sartin had no problem calling a special meeting that her board cronies, Sam Burton and Sandy Hudson, endorsed. It was a personal vendetta for them, something they made no secret of.

It was also no problem for the same three board members to hand out almost half a million dollars of taxpayer money to Klune, because it wasn't coming out of the pockets of any of them and in actuality, benefited Sartin's Desert Air Ambulance service by keeping him from pursuing a contract with a helicopter service that could provide much faster transport time than her business can.

But now that the hospital has received a cease and desist letter from Caltrans stating that helicopters can no longer land at the hospital, no one has called for a special meeting or even noted the crisis on any regular meeting agenda. That's because it's not a crisis for Sartin, Burton and Hudson; it's money in the bank.

With the cost of improvements to bring the helipad into compliance estimated to be a mere $50,000, some $420,000 less than what Sartin, Burton and Hudson voted to give Klune, one has to wonder who benefits most from keeping a helicopter from landing at Palo Verde Hospital - because it certainly isn't the patients who need emergency services.

The clearest answer we can see is Board President Sartin and her domestic partner and Desert Air co-owner, Jeff Gatchell. Gatchell's also the fixed base operator at the Blythe Airport, basically the one in charge of the airport and charging those who land there. Do the conflicts get any more apparent than this?

It's a win-win for these two in that without a helipad they get more ground-ambulance transports to the airport and more flights out as well.

For the rest of the residents of the Palo Verde Valley though, it's a lose-lose.

Residents lose out on a helicopter transport that is much faster than an airplane when making the short jump to the Coachella Valley. A helicopter, under normal circumstances, goes from hospital to hospital while airplane transport involves hospital to airport to airport to hospital, loading and unloading.

This is unacceptable to those who may have a family member who needs critical care where every minute counts. Whose mother, father or child in our community has to die before these board members wake up and realize what they are costing this commuity?

Sartin's continuous whine about her concern for patient care has turned out to be doublespeak in its purest form. Sartin's actions show she cares little about patient care but rather how much Desert Air can profit while she serves as a board member and board president. In the few short months she has served on the board her every move has seemed to benefit her and her company, not the residents who voted for her or against her.

With Burton and Hudson joining her hand-in-hand in the destruction of the local emergency services infrastructure that has existed since the 1970s, all for the benefit of themselves and their friends, Palo Verde Hospital is clearly on a course of failure and it's just a matter of time before it costs someone their life.

If the agenda of vengeance and personal financial gain for these three continues much longer, it will only be a matter of time before someone dies, suffers serious injury, or the hospital closes its doors forever.

Related Stories:
• TIMES EDITORIAL: The truth of what's happening at Palo Verde Hospital is becoming apparent
• TIMES EDITORIAL: It's not all bad news; in fact it's mostly good news
• TIMES EDITORIAL: No justice for the residents of Blythe and the valley
• Court grants Sahlolbei demurrer and motion to strike
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Hospital's new interim-CEO might be too ethical to last
• City Council hopes to work with hospital on helicopter issue
• TIMES EDITORIAL: No end in sight to Palo Verde Hospital drama
• Desert Air official fought to halt emergency helicopters from landing at hospital
• Hospital board dismisses interim-CEO and Chief Nursing Officer
• Hospital attorneys ask court to dismiss Sahlolbei's federal suit
• Emergency transport helicopters to be banned from landing at hospital
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology

Related Links:
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
• Hospital Board voids meeting citing Brown Act violations
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Let's get bids on hospital services and then make a decision

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Article comment by: cam geise

(deleted) Can somebody fire Sartin for conflict of interest? (deleted)

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Article comment by: Mark Mywords

Peter Klune was easy to discredit and smear, with his high salary and short work week. But one of the things he did right was attempt to bring the hospital's transfer policy into compliance with federal law. Klune looked at what was happening in the ER, with the MEC twisting the arms of the ER docs to try to coerce them into using Desert Air for the most lucrative transfers, and he tried to do the right thing. He tried to root out some of the corruption, and he was fired for his efforts. It doesn't appear to be coincidence that the owner of Desert Air is the President of the Board that fired him. This is (deleted), simple as that. The citizens of Blythe deserve better than this. Trina Sartin should resign.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: @ Where is HSF Anyway?

That is what I have heard. A friend of mine was a patient their just recently and the twins where running the show and 007's directing them. 007 was seen at admin office showing someone what to do on the computer.
This is so SAD!

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: Where is HSF Anyway?

So has anyone seen the new management staff and CEO? Or have they already been run off? Some things never change, and for this we can thank the twins, the fine surgeon and the puppet. So who is running this place now - Trina and Sandy with the doctor pushing them through the hallways telling them what to do?

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: I figured out how to save over 1 million

Just plain simple math, cut On-Call pay in half.
That simple!

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: Fearful Employee

To @ to @ those dummies!
Did you not hear the catch to the return on the investment? The money only is going to be made if PVH follows there directives. Do you think the good Dr. is going to allow this? And the cost is 180,000.00 not 150,000.00! Any administration heads will cost extra. How much money has been saved? FYI... staff members are really scared. We have to keep quiet or we will find ourselves unemployed like our past CEO, CFO and CNO. Just like 2007!

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: @ to @ thank the dummies

Well maybe because the consulting firm does not have a lavish life time contract and they guarantee in writing a 5 to1 minimum return on investment. So for $150k we will get back at least $750k. While with the CEO we were paying $477k in salary alone and getting back a negative couple of million in investment. I went to pvhs but I learned a little math and I think the scenario with the consulting firm is much more profitable and sustainable than that of our former ceo. The hospital in one month already figured out how to save $50k a month without peter klune. In the cfo's last report in case you are wondering where that came from. They were all changes that could have and should have been done sooner. So let's do a little more math here: $50k times 12 months= $600k dollars. CEO salary was $477k. WOW that means that the hospital after paying the CEO's one year of severance in a year from now will already be $123k ahead. Seems to me those that voted for Sandy and Trina have made the right choice

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: To @ thank the dummies

You keep ignoring the facts.
Number one, if you had taken the time to go the website about the worst hospitals in America you would of found out that the data for the study where from the exact years Sandra Hudson was on the board pushing Dr. Sahlolbeis agenda (2009 and 2010)
Second, they are now paying well over the cost of the old administration contracting with HSF consultants.
So where is the beef?

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: TO @ thank

You have forgotten that Sandy is the one who hired all the ceo/cfo, etc. She hired the guy, he got fired it's all his fault, yea sure, but Sandy hired him. She had another agenda then - remember her river house that she rented to him??? yea (deleted) because u keep the dr who has made us the worst hospital and voted sandy in again to protect him when we were almost done with (deleted). Yes - thanx again to all the sheep who are following these (deleted) - can't believe the stupidity - right in front of your eyes and u still don't get it.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: @ thank the dummies

Let's see we are the dummies because we did not vote for people that helped to make our hospital one on the 25 worst in the country, that had the hospital on a path to bankruptcy by june of this year, and gave contracts to 3 administrators for over 900k dollars a year. But we are the stupid people! Get a hold of yourself, maybe shake yourself a little and get back in reality

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: Thank the dummies who voted for this

Thank you to all the ignorant voters who started this mess by voting for these 3 (deleted) and their beneficiaries. Now can u actually see what their agenda is?? No because you are sheep and are somehow benefitting from these stupid actions. The community is sol - we cannot get rid of the hateful dr who is (deleted) us, we can't have a helicopter after 30 years because of Jeff and Trina being greedy and selfish (NO JEFF U DON'T SPEAK FOR THIS COMMUNITY), we lose all we've gained because Sandy has an ego problem like the Dr. and fires the attorneys (who are on the side of the community), the ceo - even though she was raving on the ceo when she hired him, the cfo, the nursing head, er mgr, etc ETC! Dr also wants to leave Blythe but no one will hire him because his reputation precedes him. So can you say "Dr wants to own PVH?" - literally - the dr and twins are on the way to purchasing the PVH and shoving their agenda down our throats, no choices at all for any of us, like no choices for the doc to be able to go elsewhere. Thanx again to the stupid voters of Blythe who stuck us with another problem to deal with.

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

You have to admire the twins plus Jeff. The Twins and Gofer can now do nothing and that is not a conflict of Interest. So, now they can just sit there with those wired self-satisfied looks. They can take perverted pride in getting rid of competition. So what if the public loses.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: @@ itachi

Who said the hospital makes money off transport? Pay attention, friend. We're talking about the president of the BOARD making the money, and that is a (deleted) that is being pushed and ignored here! They have not regard for rules of behavior or laws of the land.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: just me@phanom knows

He is trying to make us that do not support him and the two other blind mice look unworthy of being on God's list of good loving citizens..Trying to relieve his self of guilt..I don't even use the word hate must less feel it...I dislike a lot of people but I hate nothing God has created...

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: @ itachi

One problem there, the hopsital does not make any money from transports. It makes no difference to them financially who flies who out. Just wanted to let you know that.

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